Second annual day of protest against hereditary religion coming soon

Decision of a Fatwa committee on the case of a...

Decision of a Fatwa committee on the case of a convert to Christianity: “Since he left Islam, he will be invited to revert. If he does not revert, he will be killed pertaining to rights and obligations of the Islamic law.” The fatwa outlines the same procedure and penalty for the male convert’s children, on reaching the age of puberty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

January 20, 2013 will be the date for the second annual international day of protest against hereditary religion. The protest will again be held in cyberspace, but the aim is to eventually have annual protests in the real world. Complete with marches, rallies, and public speeches. Not to mention music.

The concept of children as the property of their parents comes from antiquity and is part of the legacy of patriarchy. Modern children are conceived as persons in their own right because the notion of one person owning another person amounts to slavery. Furthermore, children have internationally recognized rights, including the right to make their own decisions according to their ability to do so. The decision to join a religion is a decision best left until a child is a mature adult. But, institutionalized religion has been unwilling to acknowledge that children have religious freedom rights. The institutions depend upon a steady stream of new adherents to maintain their flocks as older members fall into sickness and death due to aging. Until recently no one has mounted any serious challenges to hereditary religion.

Religious authorities deny any harm comes to children and insist a child is always free to make a choice later on in life. This claim simply does not stand up to the facts as observed. Indeed, there is nothing tentative about the religious indoctrination process. It is designed to produce a lifelong adherent and it usually succeeds admirably.

The notion of ending hereditary religion is novel and can startle people upon first hearing the proposal. An immediate reaction is often instant rejection. Defenders of the status quo argue that children need religion in order to behave. Such arguments completely ignore the fact that children in the highly secular societies of Europe and elsewhere behave just fine without being subjected to religious superstition and dogma. Moreover, the evidence is mounting that early religious indoctrination is detrimental to a flourishing intellectual life and can even produce mental anxiety problems when there is a stress on obedience and fear.

Millions of people throughout the world agree children deserve an open future. No group has ever had the temerity to march up to the Vatican and demand the Pope stop brainwashing non consenting vulnerable children. No group has ever strode to the Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado and presented a list of demands that they desist. The rules of conflict place an obligation on the dissenters to lay out their demands in no uncertain terms. The religious grooming of children carries risks, violates their rights and fair minded people demand that it officially cease.

Here is the link to the 2013 protest event page:



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Focus on the familily is a political organization masquerading as a relgious organization

Focus on the Family Bookstore in Colorado Spri...

Focus on the Family Bookstore in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: James Dobson.

English: James Dobson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: The Christian flag flies outside the ...

English: The Christian flag flies outside the Focus on the Family headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Español: La bandera christiana – La sede de Enfoque a la Familia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Focus on the Family Welcome Center in...

English: Focus on the Family Welcome Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Español: El “Welcome Center” de Enfoque a la Familia en Colorado Springs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Focus on the Family's Whit's End in Colorado S...

Focus on the Family’s Whit’s End in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Focus on the Family Administration Bu...

English: Focus on the Family Administration Building in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. Español: Edificio de la administración del Enfoque a la Familia en Colorado Springs, Colorado, EEUU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before you write off Focus on the Family as some sort of fringe group, you have to understand that this fringe group has achieved main stream acceptance around the world and they have vast media resources that constantly pump out their distorted lies and wishful thinking. They have supporters their political efforts have installed in our congress and in many state houses to do the bidding of James Dobson their king maker. Remember Sarah Palin? Dobson’s choice. FoF is a political organization masquerading as a tax free religious organization.

James Dobson is the creator of a vile series of parenting books that advocate old testament treatment of small vulnerable children. To include “switching” babies. He claims all children are born evil based on old testament notions of original sin. The evil must be beaten out of them. No matter how stupid that sounds, he is absolutely serious and many ignorant people willfully follow him and his stupidity.

The physical punishment of children is not simply a harmless parental choice. Years of social research have established the clear links between hitting and humiliating children and their subsequent anti-social behavior and lifelong mental problems. But the FoF crowd doesn’t cotton to fancy notions of scientists, never mind their careful patient examinations.

The following is from the wikipedia entry. (


International associates and regional offices

New Zealand

Focus on the Family New Zealand logo pictured in original

Focus on the Family New Zealand is an organisation promoting a conservative Christian ideology. It has a similar agenda to the Focus on the Family organisation in the United States. Focus on the Family supported a Citizens Initiated Referendum on the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961.[75]

Other countries


Photo appears in the original article.
The Administration Building is one of four on the headquarters campus

The Focus on the Family headquarters is a four building complex47-acre (19 ha)[77] located off of Interstate 25 in northern Colorado Springs, Colorado.[78][79]

As of 1998 the entire Focus on the Family headquarters property had over 77 acres (31 ha) of land. 1,300 employees work in the complex,[78] which has its own ZIP code (80995).[78][80] Christopher Ott of Salon said in 1998 that the FOTF campus has “handsome new brick buildings, professional landscaping and even its own traffic signs” and that “The buildings and grounds are well-maintained and comfortable. If there is any ostentatious or corrupt influence here, it is nowhere in sight.”[78]

The headquarters includes the Focus on the Family Welcome Center. While visiting the Focus on the Family complex, a couple had asked the staff if handling the sightseers in the main building was a distraction. The staff told the couple that it was a distraction; afterwards the couple donated $4 million to have a welcome center built. A visiting family donated 7 miles (11 km) of wood trim from the family’s Pennsylvania lumber business so FOTF could build its administration building. As of 1998, James Dobson, in his welcome center film, compares his decision to build the headquarters in Colorado Springs to the founding of the temple in Jerusalem.[78]
You can read an extensive report on James Dobson, researched and compiled by People For the American Way:
The web site maintained by People for the American Way Foundation, published a comprehensive report on James Dobson that every American should read. Not only does Dobson promote secretive, devious and dishonest political practices, but he is directly responsible for misinforming thousands of gullible parents who maltreat their children based on his warped notions of parenting. He is a menace to our society and a warning to us all how dangerous it is to pay unthinking respect to religion. Men like Dobson trade on the trust people offer in good faith only to be stabbed in the back.[quote]Dobson’s Choice: Religious Right Leader Becomes Political Power Broker

A report by People for the American Way Foundation

Table of Contents

It Begins with a Dare
The Dobson Empire
Turning Listeners into Lobbyists
Dobson and the GOP: When Is Far-Right Far Enough?
2004: Power and Prejudice
The Senate as Means to an End
Celebrations and Threats


Focus on the Family founder and chairman James Dobson is perhaps the most influential right-wing Christian leader in the country, with a huge and loyal following that he can reach easily through an impressive media empire. He is a household name for millions of parents and families who have come to know him through his parenting advice books and videos. He is increasingly using his goodwill and media access to promote far-right politics and politicians, and to push the Republican Party to more vigorously adopt the Religious Right’s social agenda. Yet many Americans probably heard of him for the first time in January thanks to SpongeBob SquarePants. When Dobson argued that an educational video featuring a number of popular children’s cartoon characters advanced the homosexual agenda, he was ridiculed for “outing” SpongeBob.[1] In fact, Dobson wasn’t asserting that SpongeBob is gay, but that teaching children to be tolerant of those different from themselves, particularly gays and lesbians, is a sinister proposition.[2]

Dobson’s stance – equating tolerance with evil – reflects the extremism of his policy positions and his unforgiving stance toward those who disagree with him. While his comments about SpongeBob were deserving of ridicule, Dobson must not be dismissed as a buffoon. In fact, it is urgently important that journalists and other Americans pay closer attention to the positions Dobson promotes – and his influence with the politicians he is helping get elected.

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Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason

Sean Faircloth Sean Faircloth served five terms in the Maine Legislature. Faircloth served on the Judiciary and Appropriations Committees. In his last term Faircloth was elected Majority Whip by his colleagues.

An accomplished legislator, Faircloth successfully spearheaded over thirty laws, including the so-called Deadbeat Dad child support law which saved Maine taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and was later incorporated into federal law. Faircloth had numerous legislative successes in children’s issues and justice system reform.

In two years as Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America, Faircloth conceived and led the Secular Decade plan, a specific strategic vision for resecularizing American government. Faircloth writes about his ten point vision of a Secular American government in his book Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What to Do About It.

Faircloth earned a reputation for strategic thinking, innovative ideas, and speaking to groups in a way that energized them to support the secular cause.

As Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason, Faircloth will expand his strategic efforts on behalf of the entire secular movement, speak regarding policy issues, discuss the ideas in his book, and seek innovative ways to improve the secular movement. Faircloth has spoken around the United States about separation of church and state, the Constitution, children’s policy, obesity policy, and sex crime law. Faircloth chaired a Commission on sex crime law reform which led to substantive improvement in that area of law. Faircloth chaired an early childhood commission, as well as a Commission regarding the citizen initiative process.

In Maine Faircloth also had the idea for the Maine Discovery Museum and led the four-year project from concept to completion in 2001. Maine Discovery Museum was then the second largest children’s museum outside Boston of the twenty-five children’s museums in New England. Faircloth graduated from the University of Notre Dame and has a law degree from University of California Hastings College of the Law. Faircloth served as a state Assistant Attorney General, and as a lobbyist for the state bar association.

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Another Journalist Revels in Ignorance about Dominionism

Political Research Associates

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Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 19, 2011 at 11:00:10 PM EST

In recent weeks, we have seen an odd flurry of articles and conservative op-ed columns attacking a number of authors and journalists who write about the Christian Right.  Religion writer Mark I. Pinsky has issued the latest scurrilous screed, this time in USA Today.  It is remarkable that so much prime real estate on the op-ed pages of the leading newspapers in the country has been devoted to downplaying or denying the significance of dominionism and related subjects, or to seeking to discredit some of us who have written about these things.  So much ink, so few facts. Mr. Pinsky makes three main charges I would like to address.

The first of these is his complaint that left-wing Jewish writers are primarily responsible for critical work about the role of dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism in evangelical Christianity.  Those he names:  Sara Diamond, Michelle Goldberg, Rabbi James Rudin, and Rachel Tabachnick do indeed hail from Jewish backgrounds, but there are many non-Jews, including evangelicals, who have prominently written about these subjects.  I have written extensively about them myself, notably in my 1997 book Eternal Hostility:  The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy.  Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst at Political Research Associates in Somerville, MA has written widely about these things in books and articles.  Although we did not coin the term, he and I  certainly popularized the use of the term dominionism in the early 90s.  But evangelical seminary professors Wayne House and Thomas Ice predated all of our books in this area, in their 1988 book Dominion Theology:  Blessing or Curse?. Steve Clapp wrote an influential feature article in Christianity Today magazine about Christian Reconstructionism in 1987. Bill Moyers did a TV documentary in 1987.  More recently, Rev. Dr. Bruce Prescott a national leader in the moderate Baptist movement published a six-part series (here at Talk to Action) on dominionism based in part on his personal experiences in the right wing takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention; and when the Religious Right, led by a well-known Christian Reconstructionistnamed Steven Hotze, took over the his local Republican Party in Houston in the early 90s.  There are many, many such examples. The fact is that these matters have been prominently written about by journalists and scholars, Christian and non-Christian, evangelical and non-evangelical for decades.  In any case, writing about these things did not begin in 2006 nor has writing in this area been dominated by Jews.

(For a primer on dominionism and Christian Reconstructionism in the context of the current controversy, see Berlet’s essay ”Inside the Christian Right Dominionist Movement That’s Undermining Democracy.”)
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For children to be free, mothers must first break free from superstition and dogma

A major roadblock to elevating children’s rights over parental authority is the conservative refusal to modify their position on gender roles, and to discard worn out family stereotypes. The religious nuclear family with father at the head, an obedient wife trailing behind, and well behaved self controlled children is their ideal. Women in the US, Western Europe and other enlightened countries have managed to pry the grasping hands of backwards patriarchal men loose to some degree, but in places like Africa,
South Asia, and the Middle East, patriarchal systems are alive, well, and doing great damage to women and children. Consistently, justifications for the status quo reside in religious practices and cultural
norms, which are held sacrosanct, immutable. Parents free exercise of religion trumps children’s human rights.

In tracing where religious freedom is cited as a justification to maintain absolute control over childhood religious indoctrination my research has taken many turns. Most recently I have focused on International conventions and treaties such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (which 147 nations ratified, but Somalia and the United States did not) the CCIPR, (which the United States signed, but added stipulations that essentially make selected provisions worthless within our borders) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) I have to research the status of this convention’s adoption by the US, but I suspect it has no status either because of conservative objections. I was led to the UN conventions by the work of Innaiah Narisetti, the CFI/India Chair and a proponent of child rights. His paper is on

How is resistance to child’s rights articulated? Well, there is no better place to discern the thinking of conservatives than their think tanks. I started with The Heritage Foundation and came up with this long critique of the UN approach to bringing women and children out of the dark ages and free of the bondage of religion and tribal oppression.

The following are brief excerpts to give you a flavor of the paper:

Yet, on the issue of women’s and children’s rights, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights has permitted committees and agents under the U.N. umbrella to turn these principles on their head as they communicate with the signatories of the CRC and CEDAW treaties. These agents are targeting patterns of behavior and social norms that have had the greatest positive effects on society and the individual: marriage, motherhood and fatherhood, caring for children in the family, chastity, and the special role of religion. They have asked nations to change their domestic laws in ways that ultimately will promote sexual activity among adolescents, increase abortion and legitimize prostitution, and in general alter the
foundations of society. The sexual norms they promote, moreover, are primarily those sought by radical feminists. They are becoming the tenets of a new “moral” code against which all religions, domestic policies, and cultures would be judged.


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Forcing children into faith is ethically objectionable

World Religions by percentage according to CIA...

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The indoctrination of children is done without their informed consent. How could a three year old child be informed? Forcing children into faith is ethically objectionable for that reason alone, but on top of this, the process deliberately:

  • fosters an attitude of superiority, only one faith can be true (they are better than others)
  • encourages solipsism (god loves me and created a universe just for me)
  • creates enmity towards outsiders be they non-believers or members of a different faith
  • plants an unrealistic, patently false view of reality (evolution is often targeted)
  • stifles the mind and punishes curiosity which hampers full intellectual development
  • creates fear of holy retribution, which can lead to mental stress or even breakdown
  • creates guilt for infracting rules against unrealistic prohibitions (for example, masturbation)
  • sets up impossible standards (critics would say this is to drive children to confession)
  • infantilizes children and implants feelings of inferiority (god is great, I am unworthy)
  • creates feelings of hopelessness (there is no escape from god)
  • nourishes fear of human sexuality and creates neuroses about normal sexual feelings and sexual pleasure
These objections apply to religion without respect to creed or national boundaries. The worldwide acceptance of childhood religious grooming means the practice can be used to simultaneously pass on tribal feuds, racism, loyalty to patriarchy, mysogeny and distrust. Bear in mind that clerics are usually male and their loyalty is to men. There is usually a concerted effort to keep information about competing religions or sects from the child. The situation with Islam is the worst because Islamists do not separate religion and government. Accordingly, there is no check on the  power of unscrupulous rogue imams.
Belief in the supernatural opens a child’s mind to all kinds of spurious unreal ideas and concepts. For example, the paranormal, quack medical remedies, astrology and so on. The philosophy of idealism is embraced instead of realism so you get people saying and believing that anything is possible. The laws of physics be damned.
Some institutions try to say they don’t introduce children to the barbaric practice of blood atonement until children are older. So called Sunday schools (indoctrination centers is more like it)  focus on the story of Jesus and it is all coloring books, songs and cake and ice cream in the basement. Nevertheless children are exposed to the iconography of religion, things like angels and demons are all about them. Once a child is labeled and accepts the label it matters not what is conveyed inside the walls of their homes and institutions. The culture, at least in the USA is dripping with religious dogma and supernatural concepts. If you are raising a child in the bible belt you can be very sure they will be told about sin and redemption and some extreme right religious leaders, such as Franklin Graham, actually proposed training small children in how to proselytize their playground chums. He wanted at least one such trained child in every classroom in the USA. They are worried because so many young people are deserting the fold. Yet, old folks still have the disquieting habit of dying off.
Everything about the indoctrination process is predicated on a child becoming a life long member. Once the gate closes behind a child  everything is done to insure they never leave until they croak. The die is cast, the decision is irrevocable.
Freeing oneself from the grip of religion is similar to the process of matrimonial divorce. It can be emotionally and financially painful, it can destroy long standing friendships and in the extreme cases lead to  being shunned. Just read some of the personal narratives of exchristians posted on the web. Who knows how many people remain trapped in their religious closet because they fear the consequences of walking away.
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‘Christianity stole my childhood’ – Katy Perry

American pop-artist, Katy Perry.

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KATY Perry says she left her strict religious upbringing behind after her evangelical minister parents left her without a childhood.

The pop singer is on the cover of the June issue of Vanity Fair magazine, where she revealed the differences between hers and her parents’ way of thinking in an interview.

“I didn’t have a childhood,” she told the magazine. She said she was not allowed to use terms like “deviled eggs” or “Dirt Devil,” to listen to secular music or to read any books but the Bible.

In March, Perry’s mother revealed that she was shopping a book about the impact of her daughter’s career on her ministry. She said she was proud of Katy but disagreed with “a lot of choices she makes.”

“I think sometimes when children grow up, their parents grow up,” Katy Perry told Vanity Fair.

“Mine grew up with me. We co-exist. I don’t try to change them anymore, and I don’t think they try to change me. We agree to disagree. They’re excited about [my success]. They’re happy that things are going well for their three children and that they’re not on drugs. Or in prison.”

Perry credited her husband, actor Russell Brand, with opening her mind even more.

“I come from a very non-accepting family, but I’m very accepting,” Perry said of her current religious beliefs.

“Russell is into Hinduism, and I’m not [really] involved in it. He meditates in the morning and the evening; I’m starting to do it more because it really centres me. [But] I just let him be him, and he lets me be me.”

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Recommended reading

Religionists often remark that they do not see a way to live without religion. Apparently they are unaware that approximately 2 billion people around the world live lives free of religious control. It is not difficult and now a new book by Eric Maisel tells you how it is done. Here are the reviews from leading freethinkers and authors:


“Eric Maisel is clearly the atheist’s Wizard of Oz to have created a book with such brains, so much heart, and a lion’s share of real courage.”
— Dale McGowan, PhD, editor of Parenting Beyond Belief and 2008 Harvard Humanist of the Year

“Millions of people lead happy, moral, loving, meaningful lives without believing in a god, and Eric Maisel explains in exquisite rational and compassionate detail how we do it.”
— Dan Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist and copresident of the Freedom from Religion Foundation

“I find Maisel’s writings more witty than Hitchens, more polished and articulate than Harris, and more informative and entertaining than Dawkins. A 5-star read from cover to cover!”
— David Mills, author of Atheist Universe

The Atheist’s Way offers a meaningful approach to life that is sublime, eloquent, and inspiring. This book is a true breath of fresh air.”
— Phil Zuckerman, PhD, author of Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us about Contentment

“Maisel provides a foundation for making meaning and living purposefully without supernatural intervention. A book to be relished by atheists, skeptics, humanists, freethinkers, and unbelievers everywhere.”
— Donna Druchunas, writer on

“How do you bravely face the world as it is and create meaning for yourself without the crutch of a divine benefactor? Eric Maisel’s wise suggestions, musings, and insights are a wonderful resource for your quest.”
— John Allen Paulos, author of Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don’t Add Up

“Eric Maisel has given us a lovely, thoughtful book about belief outside of the narrow confines of organized religion. The Atheist’s Way offers an uplifting positive answer for anyone interested in how to live life without gods, superstitions or fairytales.”
— Nica Lalli, author of Nothing: Something to Believe In

“With this book, Eric Maisel does what none of the New Atheists have succeeded at doing: elaborating what atheists do believe.”
— Hemant Mehta, author of I Sold My Soul on eBay

Product Description

In The Atheist’s Way, Eric Maisel teaches you how to make rich personal meaning despite the absence of beneficent gods and the indifference of the universe to human concerns. Exploding the myth that there is any meaning to find or to seek, Dr. Maisel explains why the paradigm shift from seeking meaning to making meaning is this century’s most pressing intellectual goal.
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Lebanese Youth to Bring Down Confessional System

Coat of arms of Lebanon

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Protests sweeping the Middle East have given new impetus to Lebanese youths who have launched their own revolt on Facebook in a bid — albeit improbable — to bring down Lebanon’s confessional system.

Using slogans popularized by protesters in Tunisia and Egypt, several pages urging the Lebanese to bring down the Mediterranean country’s confessional “regime” or calling for a “day of wrath” against confessionalism, corruption and poverty have appeared recently on the social networking site.

“Lebanese youths, rise up against the oppression of this regime,” writes Mahmoud al-Khatib on, which has attracted more than 10,000 friends.

But observers and those behind the initiative say they are well aware that changing the system, in which most government and other posts are attributed according to religion rather than merit, will be a hard-won battle.

“The Lebanese are always boasting about their freedom and democracy as compared to other Arab countries,” said Hassan Chouman, a 24-year-old computer analyst in favor of change.

“But Arab countries each have one dictator whereas we have at least seven or eight,” he added, referring to the political leaders that rule in Lebanon and who represent the country’s various Christian and Muslim communities.

Contrary to other countries in the Middle East, Lebanon’s system of government is rooted in a 1943 power-sharing agreement adopted after the country won its independence from France.

Aimed at maintaining a balance between the 18 religious sects, the agreement calls for the president to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister to be a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim.

Other government jobs are also allocated according to religious affiliation.

“In Lebanon, competence doesn’t stand for much,” said Ghassan al-Azzi, political science professor at Lebanese University. “The leader of each community appoints members of his clan to top posts which renders our public administration rotten.”

And changing such a system is a bigger challenge than bringing down a dictator, he said.

“Here in Lebanon, if you hold street protests, it is not clear who it would target, which institution, which group. There is nothing tangible,” Azzi added.

Religion plays such a major part in all aspects of Lebanese society that even secular politicians are forced to join the system if they wish to survive, he noted.

One Facebook message put it bluntly: “This movement is bound to fail unless each confession brings down its own leader,” it said.

Antoine Messarra, a member of the Constitutional Council, said change will not come through a revolution in Lebanon but rather step by step, through education and better ties between the state and its citizens.

“We shouldn’t settle for promises but must address the problem methodically,” he said.

But for some, the current wave of upheaval in the Arab world is reason to hope that change is possible, despite deep divisions in the country pitting a pro-Western camp against a Hezbollah bloc backed by Iran and Syria.

“The lesson to be drawn from the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia is that we must put aside all our differences in favor of a common objective,” said Abu Reem, 39, administrator of the Facebook page titled “the Lebanese people want to bring down the confessional system.”

He said an open meeting would be held on March 6 in Beirut to plot out the next move after his page garnered more than 10,000 admirers.

“Nothing is impossible, even if it’s a long road ahead,” Abu Reem said.(AFP)

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The effects of early religious training

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The effects of early religious training: Implications for…

Hanna, Fred J.
Myer, Rick A.
Counseling & Values; Oct94, Vol. 39 Issue 1, p32, 10p
Document Type:
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Examines the impact of teaching children religion at an early age. Comparison of the concept of god taught to children to the God of theology and philosophy; Analysis of the God of childhood; Conceptualization of God by children.
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The simplistic conception of god commonly taught to children is distinguished from the God of theology and philosophy. There is evidence that children feel a considerable amount of anxiety in connection with their deity. A thorough analysis of the god of childhood reveals that many children believe in and internalize an authoritative being who is both good and evil, kind and abusive. Modeling of this being can continue into adulthood and may have a continuing effect on cognition and behavior. Implications for counseling and development are discussed.

Religious development across the life span is an important issue in counseling (Worthington, 1989) and one’s conception of God is an important aspect of that development. When this development becomes stalled at the childhood level, however, it may have negative effects that continue into adulthood. Caught between trying to explain the goodness of God and the concept of judgment, teachers use simplistic representations rather than theological works to teach children about God. The nature of childhood cognition (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969) further limits understanding to these simplistic interpretations (Nye & Carlson, 1984; O’Neil & Donovan, 1970).

“The religion of childhood is of a very special order” (Allport, 1950, p. 31) both cognitively and developmentally. Nelsen and Kroliczak (1984) found that “children continue to associate right and wrong behavior with God” (p. 267). Difficulties with respect to authority, contradictory behaviors, and control issues may arise for adults dependent on a simplistic conception of God. An investigation of this issue might explain much in the way of the cognition and behavior of adults who have not passed through more sophisficated stages of development (see Loevinger, 1976, 1985).

This article is divided into three sections: (a) analysis of the child’s conception of God, (b) cognitive, emotional, and developmental effects, and (c) implications for counseling. For the sake of clarity, God will be referred to in the masculine because that is how it has been commonly presented. Also, because the conception of God presented is not that of classical theology or the philosophy of religion, it will be referred to in small letters to differentiate this article from such treatises. We will use a time-honored method of philosophical analysis called reductio ad absurdurn (Angeles, 1981) to follow the logical progression of applying a simplistic concept of God to an adult framework of understanding. In using this method, we encourage a close examination of the traditional teaching methods used when instructing children about the concept of God. Our goal is to promote healthy and mature religious development. <more on line>

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